Car shows around the world increasingly suggest that in the not-too-distant future, cars will feature autopilots handling some of the driving. The auto show now under way in Geneva, Switzerland, is showcasing other possible trends – including cars manufactured by 3D printers.
The future of automobile travel – for the wealthy, at least – may look like very different. Swiss design firm Rinspeed is exhibiting a luxury vehicle, based on the U.S. electric car Tesla Model S, with swiveling recliner seats, a large TV screen and an espresso maker.
Rinspeed’s CEO Frank Rinderknecht says, in a car with autopilot, he does not want to just sit and watch the steering wheel turn left and right.
“I want to sleep, relax, watch movies, news, anything else. So that’s the vision, which we have,” he said. “That one day on the boring motorway traffic, you just do anything which makes your life better.”
One of the most intriguing ideas on display is a car built on a 3D printer. The chassis of the ‘Genesis’ – by German engineering firm EDAG – is printed in one piece out of thermoplastic.
“To create a car without the use of any tool. This would be a real revolution for the industry,” said EDAG’s spokesman Cristoph Horvath.
EDAG says its design is based on the turtle shell, providing the required strength and stiffness.
Other automakers did not look so far into the future. Skoda’s model ‘Vision C’, with an eco-friendly compressed natural gas engine, is due to be launched in two years, says the company’s European media relations manager, Jo Davidson.
“It demonstrates sub-100 grams of CO2 and shows what the brand can do for the environment in the future,” she said.
Volvo is showcasing its Estate Concept car which, as design manager Cecilia Stark says, is all about comfort and creativity.
“It’s to show the Scandinavian arts and crafts and music scene, and fashion and things like that,” she said. “To be emotional, expressive, charm-full.”
But it’s also about technology. All the functions in this car are controlled either by voice commands or from a large centrally-positioned touch screen, which analysts say is close to being ready for market.